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As the Committee is anxious to reach a conclusion on this matter, I shall explain why my hon. Friends and I propose to divide on the motion.
We have just agreed to incorporate into the clause an amendment which will halve the deposit originally proposed by the Government. In our view, it is still £500 too much. We believe that a deposit should not be required at a parliamentary election and that there are other, more valid, ways of dealing with the validity of a candidature.
The response yesterday of the Home Secretary to an intervention by the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) gained in firmness what it lacked in logic. As the Home Secretary put it, if a candidate places the money down and is prepared to forfeit it, that indicates that he has some reasonable expectation of obtaining the number of votes required for him not to forfeit his deposit. That view would not have met with approval from Socrates. The logic is not easily discernible. Somewhere between the first and second part of that sentence there is a large undistributed middle.
The Home Secretary has not offered any satisfactory justification. The Under-Secretary of State, in what was, in a sense, a speech on the clause stand part motion, repeated one of the errors of the Home Secretary when he talked about the financial gains that accrued to someone who used a small deposit to become a candidate—for example, free postage.